“We’re starting to see some trailblazing brands move in this direction,” observes Sabrina McPherson, senior MD and administration marketing consultant lead for client merchandise, at digital enterprise transformation consultancy Publicis Sapient. “People are looking for brands living their values and prioritising the right kind of relationship with customers rather than any relationship for easy bucks.” This requires a shift in success metrics, she continues. “You’re trading short-term revenues for long-term loyalty.”
For Lush, the transfer was prompted by broader information about social media whistleblowers and the unfavorable impression algorithms have on customers’ psychological well being — a problem that’s significantly related to Lush’s core demographic of younger women. “Social media was not designed to look after people’s health, but our products are,” explains Lush chief digital officer Jack Constantine. “It is counter-intuitive for us to use platforms that keep you hyper-tense, engaged and anxious.”
Second time fortunate?
Lush has taken a stance towards social media earlier than. In March 2019, the corporate introduced it was switching off — or, as Lush put it, “switching up social” — uninterested in combating algorithms and unwilling to pay for newsfeed actual property. During the nine-month break, Lush inspired clients to interact with its employees and shops’ particular person social media accounts, Lush hashtags, its e-commerce web site and the Lush Labs app. After that, the pandemic hit and its digital group noticed little choice however to return to social media.
Constantine acknowledges that the corporate confronted tough selections. “We were a bit ahead of the curve,” he says. “Social media is addictive, and we struggled to convince our team to go cold turkey. During the pandemic, shops were closed and social media was the best way to engage with customers, so we used those tools again. Now feels like a more stable time to re-establish our position and stand by our digital ethics.”
While different manufacturers sit again and watch, there are potential advantages to pioneering a shift corresponding to this. “The move will create a buzz for Lush, and people will start seeing the company as a champion of this movement,” suggests Jared Watson, assistant professor of selling at New York University Stern School of Business, however he factors out the necessity to stick with it: “The fact that Lush has tried this before might undermine the perceived authenticity of this strategy.”
Risk versus reward
Watson argues that the rising apprehension and distrust round social media offers corporations corresponding to Lush the chance to create “a zero-party relationship” with clients, however how that can pan out long-term stays to be seen. “If we go into this hyper-compartmentalised approach, there will be less variety-seeking from consumers. That might instil brand loyalty, but it makes it harder for Lush to win back customers that defer for whatever reason. If all companies do it, we might see a cyclical pattern of people expanding and contracting their own marketplace – similar to the shift in digital media from fragmented television channels to cable bundles, and individual streaming services to streaming bundles — so we’ll come back to where we are today.”